By Sean Kelly
I wouldn’t usually be interested in seeing a film about ballet, but with Darren Aronofsky directing (best known for Requiem for a Dream), I knew that this wasn’t going to be your average ballet film, something which was confirmed when I saw the trailer for the film. This film initially piqued my interest when it played at the Toronto Film Festival a few months ago and now, with its general release, I finally got a chance to see the film.
The film centres on Nina (Natalie Portman), a dancer for a ballet company in New York. She is given the duo lead role in a production of Swan Lake. While her director (Vincent Cassel) is confident in Nina’s ability to play the innocent role of the White Swan, he is not so sure if she could handle the dark and seductive Black Swan. This leads to Nina having a rivalry with fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), in which the events seem to be mirroring the ballet itself.
Black Swan is a hard film to classify. On one hand, it is a drama about a perfectionist dancer who is trying to make it in the world of ballet. One the other hand, the film can be described as almost a horror film. Nina begins to hallucinate as the pressure of doing the role takes its toll. Appropriately, there is some pretty trippy stuff that appears during the latter half of the film and it soon becomes difficult to know what’s real and what’s not.
I’m sure there are some that will be scratching their heads when the film ends. The film has one of those, “is that it?” endings, which is likely to annoy some moviegoers. However, as someone who appreciates the fact that not every film has to leave you with 100% closure, I believe that the movie ended on the right note.
Some people have been describing this film as a female counterpart to Aronofsky’s last film, The Wrestler, since both film’s protagonists desire to succeed in their respective careers eventually leads to their personal downfall. I would definitely call Black Swan one of the best films of the year and will probably end up being one of the frontrunners come Oscar season.